04, Jul 2020 | CJP Team
So far, CJP has been able to secure the release of 32 inmates from 4 detention camps in Assam on conditional bail. This was in line with two judgments of the Supreme Court. In order to accomplish this task, CJP followed all legal and bureaucratic processes and procedures.
But before we take you through the step-by-step procedure let us first have a look at the eligibility criteria laid down by the two Supreme Court judgments.
May 2019 judgment
In a huge relief for inmates of Assam’s infamous detention camps, the Supreme Court directed that those who have spent more than three years in captivity be set free on bail subject to certain conditions. These are as follows:
(a) Execution of bond with two sureties of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh only) each of Indian citizens;
(b) He or she specifies verifiable address of stay after release;
(c) Biometric of his/her iris (if possible) and all ten fingerprints and photos shall be captured and stored in a secured database before release from the detention centres. He or she shall report once every week to the Police Station specified by the Foreigners Tribunal;
(d) He or she shall notify any change of his or her address to the specified Police Station on the same day, and
(e) A quarterly report to be submitted by the Superintendent of Police (Border) to the Foreigners Tribunal regarding appearance of such released declared foreigner to concerned Police Station and in case of violation of condition, the DFN will be apprehended and produced before Foreigners Tribunal.
April 2020 judgment
In wake of the outbreak of Covid-19 a need was felt to decongest prisons and detention centers. In light of this, in April this year, the Supreme Court modified its own previous judgment and reduced the time served requirement to two years and surety amount to just Rs 5,000/-. A suo motu case order just after the Supreme Court Judgement finalised the total framework for release of the detenu.
Now that the final NRC has been published, and 19,06,657 people have been excluded from the final list, CJP’s campaign has become even more focused. Our objective now, is to help these excluded people defend their citizenship before Foreigners’ Tribunals. We are also helping secure the release of detention camp inmates as per the Supreme Court order on their conditional release. For this we have already started conducting a series of workshops to train paralegals to assist people at FTs. We will also be publishing a multi-media training manual containing simplified aspects of legal procedure, evidentiary rules, and judicial precedents that will ensure the appeals filed against the NRC exclusions in the FTs are comprehensive and sound, both in fact and in law. This will assist our paralegals, lawyers and the wider community in Assam to negotiate this tortuous process. For this we need your continued support. Please donate now to help us help Assam.
Opportunity to be of service
It was this modification of the 2019 Order of the Supreme Court that made it more practical to ensure freedom from detention. The amount required as surety was more reasonable and the CJP team quickly began work. Observing strictly all restrictions required under Covid-19 pandemic guidelines for social distancing, these releases of extremely impoverished persons caused huge relief and emotional upheavals. Our team had to bear witness to the joys of ensuring human freedom only to be faced by the denial of dignity: many of those detained had been completely devastated economically by the process to secure their release before we stepped in!
Steps taken by CJP before, during and after an inmate’s release on bail
1) Identify eligible detainees
CJP volunteers have been in touch with authorities at various detention camps as well as lawyers and family members of detainees. We prepared a list of people who have completed the requisite period in detention in order to qualify for bail. Sometimes, when we helped one person secure bail, they would refer another detainee they had met in the detention camp and we would become aware of their case that way.
2) Find the correct address
There is often a discrepancy in the address as given by the detainee, the address as it appears in official records and the location from where the person was actually arrested. This often leads to confusion in terms of jurisdiction which creates further bureaucratic hurdles because bailors, or people who offer surety for bail, have to belong to the same revenue village as the detainee.
3) Find bailors
The next step is to find people willing to offer surety in order to bail out the detainee. Two bailors are required for each detainee. They not only have to belong to the same revenue village, but also must satisfy the following criteria:
- They must be citizens of India
- Their name must appear in the NRC
- They must have permanent land patta (land ownership document) in either their name or in the name of their family member whose name is also included in the NRC
- They must possess a Jamabandi document (proof of land ownership)
- They should have receipts of land tax payment
- They should have legacy data
- They should have certified copy of voters’ list with their name in it
- They should have valid voter identification card
Most people don’t have permanent land patta. 34 percent of people are landless. CJP has come across village after village where not one person has any land patta. CJP has found it challenging to find a person with permanent land patta and convince them to become a bailor for a poor, rootless person. Often, even when CJP was able to find people who met all of the above criteria and had all necessary documents, they would be unwilling to help bail out the detainee fearing either harassment due to bureaucratic hurdles or social boycott for helping someone perceived to be a ‘foreigner’.
When it came to tax clearance, we faced another challenge. Bailors need to provide up-to-date evidence of land tax clearance. Often, on account of being poor, many people have joint patta. CJP has had to clear up the pending land tax of many joint patta holders.
4) Get documents verified
The documents of all bailors need to be verified. Verification takes place at two places;
- the Mandal Department in the Circle Office at the Sub Divisional Commissioners Office (SDC)
- the Border Branch of the Assam Police
Often the officials at the SDC reject documents due to minor discrepancies. This is when CJP has to look for new bailors and start the process all over again. In some cases, the Border Police Inspector verifying documents, verifies if the bailor or their ancestor’s name appears in voters lists from 1966, 1971, 1997 and the latest voters list. In some cases, we have run back-and-forth for as long as 8 months!
5) Prepare all affidavits and petitions
After procuring all documents, bailors must go to an advocate to prepare separate affidavits for bailors and detenues. A Vakalatnama needs to be prepared along with the bail petition that needs to be submitted through the advocate. CJP team members work this out on behalf of the detenu’s family and bailors, as usually they have no capacity or willingness to pay the expenditure on behalf of the detenues.
6) Submit all documents and bail application at SP’s office
The verified documents and a bail application in a prescribed format are then submitted to the Superintendent of Police of the concerned jurisdiction. It is the SP’s signature that appears on the written release order which is made in triplicate; one copy for the SP Office, one copy for the concerned detention camp and one for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
7) Get the released inmate out of the detention camp
While earlier, it would be days before the inmate was released, the procedure has been expedited in wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Now, most inmates are released within hours of the release order being issued. CJP ensures that each inmate is received outside the detention camp by a CJP team and they are dropped home safely in a vehicle arranged for this purpose. A CJP volunteer motivator or community volunteer always accompanies the newly released inmate home.
8) Post-release formalities
In the first week, the detainee and their bailors have to appear at the local police station to record their presence. The detainee has to also carry a picture of the person with whom they are living and submit it to the police. Subsequently, the detainee has to make weekly visits to the local police station to record their presence, but the presence of bailors is not required. If the detainee needs to step outside the jurisdiction of the local police station, they need prior police permission.
The entire CJP Team is committed to not just ensuring more such releases from detention, but also to providing legal aid and assistance for the victims to navigate a treacherous legal process. Though not ourselves directly, we are doing the best we can to ensure local support for the rehabilitation of the detainees released.
Here is a list of the 32 people whose release CJP has been able to secure so far.
|Name||Detention Camp||Date of Release|
|Samsul Hoque||Goalpara||February 28, 2020|
|Abdur Rashid||Goalpara||February 28, 2020|
|Kamal Ali||Tezpur||March 18, 2020|
|Jainuddin||Tezpur||March 18, 2020|
|Hajera Bibi||Kokrajhar||March 18, 2020|
|Rabindra Mallik||Goalpara||April 19, 2020|
|Abdul Salam||Goalpara||April 19, 2020|
|Gul Muhammad||Tezpur||April 19, 2020|
|Parbati Das||Kokrajhar||April 22, 2020|
|Astami Das||Kokrajhar||April 22, 2020|
|Bangshidhar Rajbonshi||Goalpara||April 22, 2020|
|Khitish Singha||Goalpara||April 22, 2020|
|Kiswar Barman||Goalpara||April 22, 2020|
|Shanti Bala Ray||Kokrajhar||April 22, 2020|
|Hellal Ali||Goalpara||April 22, 2020|
|Gour Mondal||Goalpara||April 22, 2020|
|Chittaranjan Ghosh||Goalpara||April 22, 2020|
|Jubeda Khatun||Jorhat||April 29, 2020|
|Saleha Khatun||Tezpur||May 3, 2020|
|Sadhana Sarker||Kokrajhar||May 11, 2020|
|Sunil Biswas||Goalpara||May 11, 2020|
|Manoranjan Sarker||Goalpara||May 11, 2020|
|Harimohan Barman||Goalpara||May 13, 2020|
|Purnima Biswas||Kokrajhar||May 13, 2020|
|Abdul Khalek||Goalpara||May 13, 2020|
|Lalit Thakur||Goalpara||May 15, 2020|
|Banesa Khatun||Tezpur||May 29, 2020|
|Banamali Das||Tezpur||May 29, 2020|
|Binod Das||Tezpur||May 29, 2020|
|Rajendro Das||Tezpur||May 29, 2020|
|Rahman Ali||Goalpara||June 2, 2020|
|Harbala Khatun||Kokrajhar||June 23, 2020|
Here are a few pictures of some of the detainees released on conditional bail due to efforts of CJP: